For my thirtieth birthday I decided to go skydiving. At the time, I was working three jobs, which still weren’t enough to make a dent in my student loans, and living in a very messy house in a bad part of town, because it was all I could afford. I was also single, with no kids, but I’d been single for so long that it didn’t bother me anymore. I was too poor and overworked to care about dating. I stared down the last few months of my twenties, searching for something to celebrate.
Lucky for me, my mom was happy to bankroll the skydiving trip. The decision to parachute out of a plane saved me from a whole lot of anxiety surrounding that birthday milestone. Instead of dwelling on what I didn’t have (husband, kids), skydiving was a reminder to conquer fear, keep searching for new adventures, and be grateful for what I did have (freedom, family).
In addition to being too distracted to care, there was another reason that being single didn’t usually bother me. It was my choice. A few years ago, I made the absolute and conscientious decision to stop dating. Not out of desperation, but rather as an act of faith. God had created me as a loving, passionate person. She wouldn’t give me those qualities and then deny me the opportunity to practice them.
I’d had a few online dating experiences and felt it was the wrong way for me to make a meaningful connection with someone. That’s not true for everyone, of course, but the dates I went on felt like job interviews. Useless job interviews because before the date we’d already seen all the interesting life stories on each other’s profile. I needed some romance, some tentative flirting, spontaneous conversation, surprise. Online dating did not provide any of that. So I quit and embraced being single.
We’re led to believe single ladies live a glamorous life: going out, shopping, traveling. The perks of adulthood without the obligations. But in the movies, those single ladies all have single friends. All my good friends are married, and it’s been hard making new ones. At some point, my choice to be single started feeling more difficult. I started greeting wedding announcements with a mournful, “It was nice knowing you,” acknowledging another lost friend.
These days, my friends are very busy with marriage and young kids. I get that. I’m busy, too. But it’s not impossible for me to squeeze in some time for them. So why is it impossible for them to make time for me?
Over time, I could feel myself getting closed off to people. This past summer I decided to fight against that; I needed to have some other creature to care for. I got a dog. Simply having someone else to be accountable for is practice putting another’s needs before my own. I have to get up early to let her out; I have to come home in the evening. She keeps my heart open, and she reminds me of what I have. She makes sure I don’t shrivel up.
I’m trying to stay open to new adventures, too. Recently, I was traveling (by myself), and I remember thinking how nice it would be to have a husband travel with me. In that moment, I prayed to God: “I’m ready.” The day I returned home, I looked at someone I had seen many times before, but this time, for the first time, I felt a wave of attraction. SURPRISE!
I spent the rest of the day telling myself to snap out of it. I could not like this person! But he says things that surprise me and makes me get out of my own head. It’s exhilarating. There is tentative flirtation. The funny thing is, if I had seen his online profile, he’s not at all the person I would have chosen. There are many good, sensible reasons for this not to work out. But I don’t want reason. I want passion.
My whole adult life, I’ve been single. I’ve been to movies by myself, danced by myself, traveled by myself. I’ve explored all my strengths and weaknesses… by myself. I’m grateful for that time I had. For that space to explore. And now, I want to know who I would be with someone else. Am I capable of compromise? I don’t know, I’ve never had to do it. Will I ever be able to trust someone enough to share a checking account? I’m ready to find out.
I don’t know if this new relationship will work out. But I am open. I’m not shriveling up. I’m ready to jump.